Faulty Intel Source "Curve Ball" Revealed

60 Minutes: Iraqi's Fabricated Story Of Biological Weapons Aided U.S. Arguments For Invasion

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The imagery was very close to what Curve Ball had described, with one exception: "If you look at the photos, all the way back to 1998, there was a wall that was built there," Drumheller points out. "Like a cinderblock wall that was built there, that nothing could go through."

The wall stood right in front of where Curve Ball said the trucks went in. CIA analysts who believed in Curve Ball had an explanation.

"There was an idea that it could have been a fake wall," Drumheller says.

The analysts believed Iraq had put up a fake wall to make the Americans think no trucks could pass through. The analysts also believed Curve Ball because he named names. He claimed that Dr. Basil al Sa'ati, a noted nuclear scientist, was a senior official in Iraq's mobile bio-weapons program. British intelligence found Dr. Basil outside of Iraq and pressed him on Djerf al Nadaf, as did 60 Minutes.

"Rafid Alwan told German intelligence that you personally were fully involved in the project to use Djerf al Nadaf for mobile biological weapons," Simon tells Dr. Basil.

"Big lie," the doctor replies.

If something were going on there, Dr. Basil says he would "definitely" have known about it.

"There are people in the American intelligence community…who believe that seed purification is a cover for biological weapons production," Simon remarks.

"No. It was, it was really seed purification," the doctor replies.

Dr. Basil pointed out that if he had been working on something top secret, why did Saddam let him emigrate from Iraq in 1999? In Germany, Curve Ball was caught by surprise. He didn't know Dr. Basil had left Iraq. Curve Ball became less cooperative, more nervous in debriefings. The Germans became uneasy about their source. And they weren't alone. At a CIA meeting in December 2002, the agency's former central group chief, Margaret Henoch, raised her own doubts.

"I said, 'You know, I don't know who this guy is. There's no proof that he is who he is. There's no proof that any of this ever happened. And, from my perspective, I just don't think we should trust this,'" Henoch recalls.

The top analyst, who believed Curve Ball, brought up the alleged accident at Djerf al Nadaf and said there were pictures of Curve Ball in a hazmat suit.

"Then I said, 'How do you know that was him if he's completely covered? 'Cause it could be me.' And, as God as my witness, she looked at me like a pig looking at a wristwatch. And I thought it was over. And, when I went back, I sort of said to my boss, 'Well, I'm such a genius,'" Henoch says.

"That's it for Curve Ball," Simon remarks.

"We killed that one," Henoch says. "And it was whack-a-mole. I mean, he just popped right back up."

Curve Ball was still seen as credible at the highest level of the CIA.

On Dec. 18, 2002, sources tell 60 Minutes that an urgent request from CIA Director George Tenet was relayed to the head of German intelligence. Tenet was going to meet President Bush in three days to discuss the case against Iraq. Tenet wanted the Germans to let Curve Ball appear on television or have an American expert debrief Curve Ball and then go on TV with the story.

Failing that, Tenet wanted to use Curve Ball's information publicly. An answer was requested within 48 hours, before Tenet went to the White House.